SWPD strikes again


The geniuses in the famed Blizzard Screw With the Players Department (SWPD) are back from their extended Spring Break and have once again hit one out of the park. In the most recent Legion patch notes — you can find the MMO-C blue post here — we find this little gem:

Specialization System Changes

  • Characters can now change between any of their specializations at most any time for a progressive gold cost. Action bar configurations are saved for each specialization. As a result, Dual Specialization has been removed.
  • Characters can queue up as any role that is available to their class and will automatically switch to the suitable specialization when entering the Dungeon, Raid, Battleground, or Arena without any gold cost. For example, a paladin might be questing as Retribution but queue up in Dungeon Finder as a Tank. When the paladin enters the dungeon, they will automatically switch to Protection.


Let’s see, does anyone remember the Blizz position back in Blizzcon 2015 about class specs? Let me refresh your memory (I quote in full the report by Matthew Rossi in Blizzard Watch):

One answer from the World of Warcraft Q&A that I think all players will be interested in is this one, about whether or not we’re going to get tri-spec. The answer is apparently a resounding yes.

Q: Can we please have three specs?
A: No. Just kidding. Sure. We’ll do that. As a matter of fact if you’re a Druid we’ll let you have four. As a matter of fact we’re letting you tri-spec and quad-spec in Legion. We’re actually going to smooth out the UI, too.

This is huge, because it basically means an end to the legacy of vanilla WoW‘s need to pick a spec and stick with it — if you’re of a mind to, you could have all three of your specs represented. Or you could be weird like me and have two Guardian and two Feral specs just to be that guy. It’s still an amazing change to WoW’s spec system. Considering Demon Hunters would have been able to essentially have both Havoc and Vengeance specs, it’s a welcome change to let everyone have that same ability to choose.

Wow. Poor Rossi, he was led down the garden path. So the real answer was, “We’re letting you tri-spec and quad-spec in Legion, but we are charging you gold every time you change (actually more gold each time), and also we are making it almost impossible to do because you must spend months grinding out an artifact weapon on every spec. BWAHAHA!”

And Blizz acts offended when people say they don’t trust the devs? This is a deliberate misleading of players on a par with “WoD will have flying sometime around the first patch” and “Garrisons are completely voluntary”.

What exactly might this little SWPD brilliant idea do as far as game play? First, let us think about hunters. (Always the first thing I think about with game changes.) How many hunters out there keep a Beastmastery spec not so much to play, but to use when they want to spend some time adding exotic and spirit beasts to their stables? I know I do this, and I suspect quite a few other hunters do. It is a fun thing to do if you are a hunter. Well, get ready to pay extra gold for such fun in Legion, both when you switch to BM and when you have the pet and want to switch back to your main spec. More gold every time you do so, in fact.

Second, this is yet another penalty imposed on pure DPS classes, because if you are a hybrid class with both a DPS and a tanking or healing spec, you take no gold hit by entering a raid or dungeon as a different spec than you may solo with. But if you are, say, a hunter, who solos as BM but it turns out to be so horribly unbalanced that you are not competitive raiding with it, well too effing bad, it will cost you gold every time you switch for a raid or dungeon.

Third, even the hybrid classes are penalized somewhat. Let’s say you are a resto Druid but — as has been the case now for a couple of expansions — there is no decent way to level or solo as one, so you choose Boomkin for those activities. Let’s also say you are conscientious about your healing and want to test out some healing styles on practice dummies or possibly on a tag-it world boss. Get your pocketbooks out, because it will cost you gold every time you switch specs to do these things. In fact, even if you want to set up an addon for your healing, like Healbot or Weakauras or Bartender 4, every time you switch into your healing spec to do so — ka-ching, ka-ching. Done with setting things up and ready to do some more questing? Ka-ching. More gold every time you do it, because as Blizz says, the cost is “progressive”.

Working a couple of hours a week to try and get your artifact weapon for a second spec? Gold every time you switch to pursue it, then again when you switch back at the end of the evening.

Thinking about it, the SWPD has really outdone themselves on this one — I see bonuses and promotions in their future. Not only have they royally screwed the players, but they have found an exceptionally painful, widespread, and annoying way to remove gold from the game — gold Blizz bribed us with as an emergency measure to stop bleeding subscriptions in WoD. They have discovered an outstanding weaselly way to mealy-mouth their Blizzcon 2015 pronouncement about being able to switch to all specs, so Ion Hazzilkostas and other program managers at Blizz can haughtily claim they did not in fact lie, how dare we insinuate such a thing. And — and this one is the true genius of the move — they have provided a solution to the complaint that pursuing a second or third artifact will be too onerous, because now it will likely cost too much for most players to do so. Fewer players pursuing second or third artifacts equals fewer players complaining that it takes too long.

I am in awe.

And Blizz — a big fat raspberry to you for once again deliberately lying to our faces misleading your players.

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

5 Responses to SWPD strikes again

  1. They’ve gotta change it. Maybe it’s a smoke screen meant to be changed due to player feedback. It’s hard to believe that it’s there in the notes.

  2. gnomecore says:

    It’s 1 toon = 1 spec case with. So there are two warriors, two monks etc rather than double-specced toons in my alt army.

    Still it’s obviously a completely insane innovation. Like charging some fee for getting on and off mount, or for using a hearthstone. I haven’t the slightest idea what was background behind this decision. I’ve honestly tried and I can’t.

    • Fiannor says:

      Eek! Don’t give them any ideas! They just might decide to add a “usage fee” for flying!

      The only thing I can think of as a reason is that it is designed to be a gold sink. As such, it would be effective because it affects every player at every level, and an activity that is common. As such, it is functionally similar to repair costs or AH fees (two examples of effective gold sinks recently mentioned by Ion Hazzikostas when he was discussing the cost of the spider mount).

      But it is a terrible idea, especially the progressive part, because it very significantly and adversely affects a key part of character play and development. It actively discourages dual or multi-spec game play. Like you, I am puzzled as to who at Blizz thinks this is a good idea. Are they now attempting to dictate “immersion” and “fun” can only be had by playing one spec per character? It’s nutty.

  3. Grumsta says:

    As many others have pointed out in various forums: where does the gold go when you change spec? Who are we paying?

    Until now we purchased a Tome of the Clear Mind which was consumed when a change was made. And now we take a few gold out of our pocket and throw it into the air? And each time we do it we feel the need to throw more…? Bonkers.

    Once again (like with the mega-expensive mounts) I feel for the new players who weren’t part of the gold giveaway in WoD. How will they afford to switch specs? Will the cost be waived at low levels? The more I think about this the more certain I am that Blizz haven’t. Not properly anyway. When this first appeared in the alpha I thought “placeholder” and didn’t give it much more attention. I’m struggling to understand how this is still in the game. Are Blizz just trying to find the “ouch” point?

    I agree with @wrathofkublakhan that this has to be a deliberate “whoopsie” that will be quickly changed due to player feedback. I cannot for the life of me see why Blizz feel the need to do this when as you point out your ability to effectively use your alt spec(s) is heavily gated behind your spec weapon anyway.

    It’ll be interesting to see how this story develops – I hope it’s simply Waterstrider 2.0.

    • Fiannor says:

      Yeah, Tome of the Clear Mind is a minor gold sink that applies to glyph and talent switching, and I suppose if Blizz eliminates that currency in favor of direct gold costs — adopting the auto-pay method used for repairs — it would be no big deal. But as you point out, it is “bonkers” to have it apply to spec changing and then on top of it all have it be progressive.

      Once again I am convinced that no one on the dev team really plays this game, at least not in any way that does not have to do with their job functions. If they did, they would immediately reject this idea because they would know how often most classes switch specs, for all kinds of reasons.

      Possibly they are adopting the airline business model, charge for every little thing …

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